This one is definitely a heart string puller …
Ardent Springs, Book 4
by Terri Osburn
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Publication Date: November 15, 2016
As a newly single mother, Carrie Farmer isn’t quite ready to jump back into the dating pool in Ardent Springs—especially since her last marriage was such a disaster. But if anyone could entice her to wade in a bit, it would be her hunky neighbor, Noah Winchester. He’s the perfect man: strong, protective, and smoking hot. But her eyes have deceived her before, and she’s no longer willing to hand over her heart so easily.
After completing several tours in the Middle East, Noah returns to his hometown a very different man. The former soldier’s plan to rest and relax is soon waylaid by the intriguing woman next door and her heart-stealing little girl. Something—or someone—put shadows in Carrie’s lovely eyes, and he’s determined to clear them away. But when hidden demons can no longer be ignored, the couple gets a reminder from an unexpected source that love truly can conquer all.
Amazon Kindle: http://amzn.to/2eWYihT
Amazon Print: http://amzn.to/2feJhGm
B&N Print: http://bit.ly/2cjAPnE
Three days into life with her new neighbor and Carrie Farmer wanted to shove a tailpipe up the man’s nose. Sideways.
The newcomer had no respect for the people around him. Though, technically, they were the only two houses for half a mile, so in reality, he had no respect for her. And he definitely didn’t think twice about sleeping babies if the last two nights were any indication.
Enough was enough.
“I can do this,” she muttered, stepping through her side gate to cross onto his property.
The farmhouse had sat vacant since Carrie moved in a year ago. She’d assumed the family who owned it would sell off the rest of the land one plot at a time, in sizes similar to the one she’d purchased. Thanks to a small life insurance policy on her deceased husband, Carrie had been able to put a modest single-wide trailer on her lot, and she’d enjoyed blissful peace and quiet ever since.
That peace and quiet no longer existed thanks to the jerk next door.
When she reached his porch, she fortified her resolve with several deep breaths. Confrontation made her nervous, for good reason. Seeking conflict wasn’t Carrie’s style, but this man had messed with her child, and that could not be ignored.
Plucking up the courage, she knocked on the door and then shuffled several steps backward. Nothing stirred inside. She knocked again. No response. What the heck? The red truck next to the house meant someone was home. Carrie moved down the porch to peer through a window, but the second she pinned her nose to the glass, a roaring engine shattered the silence. She nearly peed her pants as her heart threatened to beat right out of her chest. With clenched fists, she bit back the profanity dancing on the tip of her tongue. As Molly was on the cusp of talking, Carrie did her best to keep her language baby appropriate.
But dammit to hell, that thing was loud. Much louder than it had sounded through her trailer walls.
“This is ridiculous,” she murmured, charging down the steps and around the side of the house. Nearly fifty yards away stood the scene of the crime—an old barn turned garage that did nothing to buffer the sound coming from inside. By the time Carrie reached the entrance, the noise cut off, and she hustled to take advantage of the quiet.
The dimness of the garage compared to the blinding September sun made seeing anything inside nearly impossible. One motorcycle hovered on a table to her right. Though, upon closer inspection, she realized the frame was empty. Clearly not the source of the problem. Another machine occupied the center of the space, and as her eyes adjusted, Carrie recognized a figure crouched down on the other side of it.
“Excuse me?” she said. “Can I have a word with you?”
Without getting up, a baritone voice said, “If you’re looking for money, I don’t have any. If you’re recruiting for God, I’ve already punched my ticket to hell. Anything else, I’m not interested, so haul your scrawny ass back to the road and take a hike.”
Undeterred, Carrie said, “I’m here to talk about that monstrosity that you’re hiding behind.”
Rising out of the shadows, he said, “Did you just insult my bike?”
Carrie swallowed hard. Dark eyes narrowed under full brows that matched the reddish-brown whiskers covering half his face. With slow, methodical movements, he wiped his hands on a dirty rag, causing the muscles along his shoulders to flex beneath stained white cotton. Years of living with her former husband had made Carrie an expert at recognizing danger. Keeping one eye on the looming giant, she scanned the area for a weapon, aware that without one, she didn’t stand a chance against a man this size. His arms were larger than her thighs, for heaven’s sake, and the rest of him was proportioned to match.
A crowbar leaned against the table to her right. She could probably get to it before he did.
“I’m not here to insult anything,” she assured him, hoping her bravado would hold out. “But I have a baby next door who needs to be able to sleep through the night without that thing thundering to life at two in the morning.”
Surely any reasonable person would feel bad about waking a baby. Then again, this bearded behemoth didn’t look at all reasonable.
Instead of offering an apology, he stepped around the bike, his heavy boots thudding in the dirt with each step. Carrie scooted closer to the crowbar.
“Do I know you?” he asked.
“Like I said. I live next door. I’m sure you’ve seen me in the last few days.”
He shook his head, releasing a long, wavy lock to hang over his right eye. “No, it’s more than that. I’ve met you before.”
As if she’d forget meeting a towering mass of muscle who bore an uncanny resemblance to a grizzly bear. “I don’t think so.”
“What’s your name?”
His eyes went wide. “As in Patch Farmer?”
Panic raced like a gas fire up her spine. “He was my husband.”
“You’re that married chick he was seeing the last time I was home.”
“I can’t believe he married you.”
The insult stung like a slap.
“Life is full of surprises,” she said through gritted teeth. “Are you going to stop cranking this machine every night or not?”
He held up both hands in surrender, the rag dangling from callused fingers. “I get the message. I’ll work on something else at night.”
Satisfied, Carrie nodded. “Thank you. I won’t bother you again.”
“Hold up,” he said, following her out of the garage. “Is the kid Patch’s?”
This man took being a jerk to new levels. Without turning around, she replied, “Yes, she’s Patch’s baby. I was pregnant when he died last summer.”
“Slow down.” The moment his hand touched her wrist, she jerked away, spinning to protect herself.
“Don’t touch me,” she snapped.
“Whoa.” Again he held his hands palm out. “I’m not going to hurt you, lady. Patch was my friend. I just want to know about his kid.”
Reluctant to discuss Molly with this stranger, she asked, “If he was your friend, why weren’t you at the funeral?”
His stance tensed. “Because I was stuck in a desert trying not to get my head blown off.”
Recognition dawned. “Noah?” she said, trying to see the man beneath the beard. “Noah Winchester?”
She had met him before. Except he hadn’t been anywhere near this size, and he’d been clean-shaven with the typical military buzz cut. Of course, he’d been an ass back then, too. Of all the people who could have moved in next door, why did it have to be one of Patch’s friends?
Pointing out the obvious, she said, “You don’t look like a guy in the military.”
He tucked the rag in his back pocket, stretching the cotton over his broad chest. “The hair and beard were necessary to blend in for my last assignment. I got used to it, so I kept them after I got out.”
“So you’re living here permanently?” Please say no. Please say no.
“I am.” Of course he was. “This house belonged to my grandparents. No one told me a piece of the land had been sold off.”
“The trailer should have been a big clue,” she said.
The hint of a grin drew her attention to his full lips. The top one curved like a perfect bow. She felt the urge to follow that curve with her fingertip.
Blinking, Carrie gave herself a mental slap. Where the heck had that come from? There would be no lip touching. Or anything else touching, for that matter.
“You interested in selling it back?” he asked.
Dragging her brain back to reality, she said, “Sell what back?”
“The land. I’d rather be out here by myself.”
Of all the . . . She’d worked hard for this little piece of heaven, and she’d definitely earned it. Noah Winchester could blow it out his tailpipe if he thought she’d hand over her land so he could fire up his stupid toys whenever he wanted.
“This is my home. I’m not going anywhere.”
Tucking the loose hair behind his ear, he sighed. “I was afraid you’d say that.”
“I have no intention of bothering you again,” she said, more than happy to give him his space, if not his land. “Keep the noise to the daylight hours and we won’t ever have to talk again.”
“Fine by me,” he said. “But I have one request.”
Carrie held the eye roll in check. She’d do just about anything to keep him out of her hair. “What’s that?”
“I want to meet Patch’s daughter.”
Anything but that.
This is the first of this series that I’ve read – I remember coming across a couple of others and wanting to get an ARC but for the life of my I can’t remember why I didn’t … I loved Osburn’s Anchor Island series, so I have no idea what I was doing 🙂 I don’t think that it make a huge difference but the previous couples are very involved in this story and I’m curious about how Carrie was portrayed before since she so entwined in everyone’s lives. You can definitely read this as a stand alone but I think that it will have more impact for returning readers.
Having said that, I will admit to really liking these two. Noah’s not your average hero – he’s not smooth or all that charming. He suffers from PTSD and a few rought deployments mixed with some disappointments in his recovery has led him to believe that he’s better off alone. He avoids most social situations and tends to be blunt in his conversation. But at his core he’s a very good man. He just has an awful way of showing it 🙂 After a pretty rocky start, complete with some awful assumptions and not-so-nice things being said, time with Carrie has him hoping for something different.
Carrie has had a pretty hard life (and this is one of those places where I wish I’d read the previous books so I’d have a better feel for everything she’s gone through). She’s finally at good place – her own house, good job, supportive friends and only her daughter to be responsible to. There’s no man or family to beat her down and she’s actually starting to feel good about herself. Then she gets a new, crusty neighbor who just happens to have been good friends with her abusive husband. He doesn’t think the best of her and isn’t afraid to share his feelings … but once they have a chance to clear the air about things, they start to see each other differently. And Carrie sees the good man under the scruffy beard. And thinks that maybe she’s finally found something worthy.
I’m sure that having gotten to know Carrie already, returning readers will be even more invested in her story but I definitely felt for her and was happy to see her put a better life together. I’m curious how much growth she’s done in the earlier books because it seems like she moved pretty quickly into a relationship with Noah. However she does talk about how seeing the other couples be so happy makes her realize that there are good men. And Noah’s as good with his actions as he is with his words when it comes to his aversion to violence against women. I’ve seen some comments in reviews that a woman who has survived abuse would be more hesitant to get involved again within a year or so of her husband’s death but I get the feeling that Carrie has been heading that way for a while (even if just in her own mind).
Maybe since he’s a new character, and she has to do all of his development here, I feel like Osburn does a great job of giving Noah’s PTSD its due. It has a huge impact on his life and he struggles with how to handle it. I feel for him as he describes some of the things that he’s gone through but I was happy that “love” didn’t miraculously cure him. He needs real help and Osburn addresses that.
I’m reminded why I enjoyed my other Osburn books so much. She’s great at creating interesting characters and an involved plot, plus her easy-to-read writing keeps readers involved. With her newest, two wounded souls find each other and and work to find a happy, healthy place together. It’s not smooth sailing but it’s more satisfying for having to make it through those rough patches. I’m regretting passing over those other books but I’m definitely going to be picking up any I run across going forward 🙂
Be sure to check out the first three books in the Ardent Sprints series!
Ardent Springs, Book 1
Sparks fly when high school sweethearts reunite in this first book in Terri Osburn’s Ardent Springs Series. Lorelei and Spencer thought they’d moved on, but find old flames never really die. But can they let the past go to find their happily ever after?
Amazon Kindle: http://amzn.to/2e4k8Rz
Amazon Print: http://amzn.to/2feTXom
Ardent Springs, Book 2
A whirlwind romance landed Caleb and Snow in a Vegas wedding chapel making the biggest commitment of their young lives, but married life isn’t quite what Snow expected. Caleb has spent eighteen months looking for his runaway bride, and now that he’s found her in Ardent Springs, he isn’t about to let her out of his arms again.
Amazon Kindle: http://amzn.to/2fk5CRL
Amazon Print: http://amzn.to/2fdZwGp
Ardent Springs, Book 3
A desperate teenage mother becomes a common cause for Cooper and Haleigh, who have been friends forever and nothing more. Seeing this as his chance with the girl he’s always loved, Cooper turns on the charm, but Haleigh’s history, as well as her daunting mother, could be too much for even love to overcome.
Amazon Kindle: http://amzn.to/2f3geFp
Amazon Print: http://amzn.to/2e4njZj
Although born in the Ohio Valley, Terri Osburn found her true home between the covers of her favorite books. Classics like The Wizard of Oz and Little Women filled her childhood landscapes, and the romance genre beckoned during her teen years. In 2007, she put pen to paper to write her own. Just five years later, she became a 2012 finalist for the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award, and her debut novel was released a year later. To date, she has released eight novels, two novellas, and one short story. You can learn more about this award winning author by visiting her website atwww.terriosburn.com.
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